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Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Socket Preservation

What is Meant by Socket Preservation?

Often we must extract teeth because of pain, infection, bone loss or fracture of the tooth. Long-standing chronic infection or disease can often damage the bone that holds the tooth in place (the socket), resulting in deformity of the jaw after the tooth is extracted. In addition, when teeth are extracted, the surrounding bone and gums can shrink and recede very quickly after the extraction resulting in unsightly defects and collapse of the lips and cheeks. 

These jaw defects can create major problems in performing restorative dentistry whether your treatment involves dental implants, bridges or dentures. Socket preservation is a means by which these jaw deformities from tooth removal can be prevented and repaired. It can greatly improve the appearance of your smile and increase your chances for successful dental implants for years to come.

How is the Procedure Performed?

Several techniques can be used to preserve the bone and minimize bone loss after an extraction. In one common method, the tooth is removed and the socket is filled with bone or bone substitute. It is then covered with gum, artificial membrane, or tissue stimulating proteins to encourage your body’s natural ability to repair the socket. With this method, the socket heals while eliminating shrinkage and collapse of surrounding gum and facial tissues. The newly formed bone in the socket also provides a foundation for an implant to replace the tooth. If your dentist has recommended tooth removal, be sure to ask if socket preservation is necessary. This is particularly important if you are planning on replacing the front teeth.

What Can I Expect After the Procedure?

You may experience slight pain and discomfort following the procedure once the local anesthetic has worn off. You will be provided with analgesics (pain killers) to help minimize any discomfort. You will also be provided with prescriptions for antibiotics as well as an antimicrobial mouth-rinse. There will be stitches present in the gums that will dissolve on their own in a couple of weeks. Very mild swelling may be noted for the first 2-3 days as well. In general, this is a very well-tolerated procedure with only mild discomfort being the most common complaint postoperatively.